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Scuba diving and rock climbing helps blind

Media Release 21 June 2001
For immediate release

Scuba diving and rock climbing helps blind and sight impaired youth to decide on careers

From Sunday 24 June through to Tuesday 26 June, Christchurch will be home for eight to twelve blind and sight-impaired youth embarking on a three-day 'career adventure'.

The high school students, ranging in age from 14 to 18 years, have come from Nelson, Otago, Southland, and Canterbury to explore their future career options, not only in the classroom - but also beneath the water and up a rock wall!

Organised through the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind's (RNZFB) Peer Support Programme, the career adventure allows participants to stretch themselves physically while building the self-confidence they will need to pursue careers once they move on from high school.

"We firmly believe that encouraging the teenagers to push past what they consider to be physical limitations, helps them to overcome any mental blocks they might have about what they are capable of in the workforce," says Peter Madden, RNZFB National Peer Support Co-ordinator.

With this in mind the 'career adventure' will be challenging students to think about what their next step will be once they leave school.

"We encourage them all to see tertiary education as the next stage in their development. We aim to challenge them to set clear career goals and to set their sights high. This is matched in a physical sense. We set them tasks that challenge them emotionally and physically. By pushing themselves and succeeding they gain confidence and develop a winning attitude," says Peter Madden.

Over the three days the blind and sight impaired students will be pushed right out of their comfort zones by being encouraged to scale rock walls at the YMCA, scuba dive and plunge into wave pools. Then for a little light relief they will see a movie.

Each student will receive one-one tuition with a professional instructor.

Special guest speaker Dave Whalley, Area Manager for McDonalds will also address the group.

"Socialising is also an important part of the course," says Mr Madden. "Many of the participants come from communities where they may be the only blind or sight-impaired student at their school".

"The course allows them to develop relationships with other young people facing similar challenges, to share experiences, to talk about their dreams and how they maintain their independence."

"Often the supportive environment they are in during the length of the course leads to life long friendships."

ENDS

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